The first round of redundancies at Twinings’ North Shields factory has been delayed until February 2011, having originally been due to start this September.
Parent company Associated British Foods announced plans to close the site late last year as part of a restructuring of Twinings that would see UK tea production consolidated at Twinings’ Andover facility, a new €45m (£37.7m) factory built in Poland and significant investment in its Chinese tea factory.
However, 263 phased job losses leading-up to the final shutdown in September 2011 have been delayed, the company confirmed.
USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) northeastern division political officer Jayne Shotton told FoodManufacture.co.uk that problems establishing the Polish site had caused the delay. The timetable determining which staff members went first was still fluid, she added.
“We’re holding constant meetings with the company, but the closure is subject to change and in terms of a timescale we only have the final February date to work with.
“It is very dependent on the gradual transfer of machinery to Poland and Twinings’ other facilities in Andover and China.”
North Shields staff retraining
Shotton said the union had been working with North Tyneside Council and recently abolished regional development agency One North East to provide a resource group identifying retraining opportunities for affected staff at North Shields.
She also revealed that Twinings had offered existing North Shields staff the opportunity to help establish operations in Poland early next June.
“The idea is that staff here will be paid to travel over there and work for a few months – returning to the UK every other weekend. The uptake has been surprisingly good.”
A spokesperson for USDAW said that the first round of 129 total redundancies at Twinings’ Andover site was scheduled to begin in May 2011.